Sandwiched between the Texan metropolises of Dallas and Fort Worth, the state’s entertainment capital Arlington was bound to inherit a trickle-down of first-rate restaurants from its neighbors. Arlington’s dining scene is diverse, with upscale restaurants residing amicably alongside casual haunts. Our guide to the city’s culinary community will steer you on the right track to Arlington’s best restaurants.
Babe’s Chicken Dinner House started out as one restaurant in the neighboring city of Roanoke, established by Paul and Mary Beth Vinyard in 1993. It has since grown into a successful locally owned restaurant group of nine branches across the Fort Worth-Dallas area, including its Arlington location which opened in November 2010. Offering guests Texas country-style fried chicken dishes in an interior full of kitsch-chic Western fittings, Babe’s must-try menu items include its famous fried chicken and delicious fried catfish. These can be accompanied by sides like buttermilk biscuits and cream gravy, and topped off with indulgent desserts like chocolate meringue pie.
The Louisianan expression ‘laissez les bon temps rouler’, or ‘let the good times roll’ to non-Creole speakers, is the motto at Bayou Cat– a lively restaurant specializing in Cajun and Creole cuisine, whose proximity to the University of Texas at Arlington makes it a popular hangout with the city’s student community. Combining a casual and friendly atmosphere with a retro diner-style interior, Bayou Cat is the perfect dining destination in which to enjoy tasty seafood dishes. Try the fried catfish, oyster po boys and seafood gumbo with red beans and rice, or other delicious fare including chicken wings and Louisiana meat pies.
Quite possibly the most grand restaurant in the Arlington area, Cacharel enjoys a prime location on the ninth floor of the Brookhollow Two Tower, giving diners spectacular views over Arlington’s vibrant Entertainment District. Featuring an elegant and timelessly stylish dining room, the establishment comprises a menu full of fine French and American dishes – like sautéed Norwegian salmon with champagne and dill sauce and the New York-style cheesecake with raspberry coulis. These make Cacharel a must-try Arlington restaurant. Cacharel’s beautiful Grand Ballroom is also host to many local events and weddings.
Dining at Damian’s Cajun Soul Food Café does exactly what it says on the tin – serving up delicious, Louisiana Cajun and Creole cuisine guaranteed to warm the souls of any diner. Owned and operated by a family originally from Louisiana, authentic fare is provided when eating at Damian’s, with chef and namesake Damian L. Placide Sr. overseeing a menu full of tempting entrées and desserts. Must-try items include Damian’s signature dishes like gumbo smothered pork steak, while other mouthwatering dishes include plenty of Cajun-Creole comfort food classics, like seafood etoufee, dirty rice, fried chicken and mustard greens.
A much-loved sandwich shop and deli, Dino’s Subs is a casual and welcoming establishment that if local diner reviews are anything to go by, is Arlington’s go-to destination for delicious and hearty sub sandwiches. Opened back in 1980, Dino’s Subs has been serving local hungry diners for over 30 years, and accolades including Arlington Today Magazine’s Favorite Lunch of 2014 Award only strengthen its impeccable reputation. Choose from popular sub varieties that include hot roast beef and cheddar cheese, hot eggplant parmigiana and diner favorite the Black Jack – baked ham, peppered beef, provolone cheese, cream cheese and mushrooms. Wash your meal down with a schooner of Dino’s ice-cold beer.
Opened in late 2013, Fork in the Road is one of Arlington’s most recent additions and a warm, family-style restaurant serving hearty American lunches and dinners. Set up by Mohawk-toting owner and chef John ‘Silverback’ Hopkins, Fork in the Road is a truly local and personal endeavor featuring a menu full of local ingredients and individual touches from the owner himself. Burgers, sandwiches and other tempting entrées dominate Fork in the Road’s menu and a new burger is created weekly. Past options include the Philadelphia Experiment, a 7 oz. burger patty topped with Philadelphia cream cheese and fresh jalapenos – perfect washed down with pure sugar cane sodas.
Established in 2009 by owners Sam and Didem Sensel, Istanbul Grill boasts a unique reputation for being the Arlington area’s only Turkish restaurant, having become one of the city’s best-loved dining hotspots. A wide range of exotic dishes and an elegant but welcoming interior with authentic artworks and wall hangings typify the dining experience at Istanbul Grill. The restaurant’s menu gives guests the perfect opportunity to sample some of the flavorsome and healthy cuisine typical of Turkey, such as the rich moussaka and the hunkar begendi –tender lamb simmered in tomato sauce and served with smoked eggplant puree.
Keeping Arlington diners happy and well-fed since opening in the spring of 2013, Mo’s Best Eatery serves an eclectic range of food bound to suit even the most diverse group of diners, and a prime location just a short drive from the scenic shores of Lake Arlington. Burgers, pizzas, sandwiches and pasta dishes are offered alongside traditional Middle Eastern fare like baba ghanoush – specially prepared by owner Mo Zaben’s mother – and daily specials. Mo’s burgers, which were named among the best in the city by Arlington Texas Today, are a diner favorite and served simply with one or more juicy, succulent patties in a tasty toasted bun.
Widely regarded as serving some of the best pho – the much-loved Vietnamese broth consisting of rice noodles and beef – in the city, Pho Pasteur is a restaurant offering authentic Vietnamese fare located just a short distance from Arlington’s scenic Johnson Creek Linear Park. A simple and understated interior ensures surroundings do not detract from Pho Pasteur’s menu brimming with traditional, flavorsome dishes like its signature appetizer thit nuong Pasteur – lemongrass marinated pork served on a bed of lettuce with a side of nuoc cham dipping sauce. A BYOB policy means guests can bring their own drinks to enjoy with their meal.
A proud leader in Arlington’s farm-to-table dining community, Potager Café was established in downtown Arlington in 2009 by owner Cynthia Chippindale, who has a passion for natural and affordable organic food. Residing in a charming building on South Mesquite Street, Potager Café features a cozy, offbeat interior full of mismatched, boho-chic furnishings and daily-changing menus based on available local ingredients. Some delectable options include the leek and fennel soup, lemon herb catfish and roasted pork shoulder. Locally produced foodstuffs like honey, jam and pickles are available to purchase. Whilst Potager Café allows guests to BYOB, a number of organic beers and wines are also sold.